String break angle over the nut not sufficient?

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String break angle over the nut not sufficient?

Postby Bill Bell » Wed Oct 10, 2012 2:44 pm

I'm just finishing an LP jr double cut, and the string angle over the nut does not seem like it's enough? I think the problem is that the string holes in the posts of the locking tuners I bought are really high above the headstock. The strings are at least .25" above the surface of the headstock, probably more? The headstock is .58" thick and has an angle of 15 degrees so I don't think that there's anything wrong with the geometry? I thought the nut slots were cut too low but that's not the case, if I give a little downward pressure behind the nut all is fine. Do I need to add some kind of string tree or bar to hold the strings down behind the nut?
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Re: String break angle over the nut not sufficient?

Postby Greg Robinson » Thu Oct 11, 2012 7:22 am

Hi Bill,
Is something about the instrument not working correctly? If everything is working ok, I say call it good. 1/4" string height above the headstock with a 15° angle sounds fine to me. What angle are the strings making over the nut?
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Re: String break angle over the nut not sufficient?

Postby Mario Proulx » Thu Oct 11, 2012 8:51 am

To echo Greg's question, what is happening with the guitar that makes you question the break angle? Sounds like your have plenty of break angle, so tell us what concerns you, and we'll help.
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Re: String break angle over the nut not sufficient?

Postby Bill Bell » Thu Oct 11, 2012 1:07 pm

I guess I should post a picture but do not have one right now. I looked on the Stew-Mac site and a couple of people made comments about the post height on these particular tuners, the string hole is 25mm from the backside mounting, other tuners I looked at were more like 20mm. The fact that the tuners are also self-locking means that the strings don't wrap which could help force the string down on the post. I think the angle changes from 15 to more like 10 because of these tall posts? Maybe the best thing to do is buy different tuners, do you think Stew-Mac would do an exchange? Thanks for your help.
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Re: String break angle over the nut not sufficient?

Postby David Schwab » Thu Oct 11, 2012 3:09 pm

But is it doing something it shouldn't be, like buzzing on open strings? otherwise don't worry about it.
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Re: String break angle over the nut not sufficient?

Postby Bill Bell » Thu Oct 11, 2012 3:41 pm

Yeah sorry, the D,G,and B strings are all buzzing. Like I said I thought that I had a problem with the first fret but that wasn't it, if I put a little downward force just beyond the nut the buzzing goes away. Would different gauge strings help, I think I have 10's on?
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Re: String break angle over the nut not sufficient?

Postby Edgar Jessop » Thu Oct 11, 2012 5:16 pm

Could it be that the nut slots aren't cut correctly?
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Re: String break angle over the nut not sufficient?

Postby Greg Robinson » Thu Oct 11, 2012 7:02 pm

10° should be plenty. Like Edgar, I would suspect the nut slots first. Can you post a photo?
Also, which tuners are they? Maybe someone else here has used them and can weigh in.
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Re: String break angle over the nut not sufficient?

Postby Peter Wilcox » Thu Oct 11, 2012 9:24 pm

Bill Bell wrote:if I give a little downward pressure behind the nut all is fine. Do I need to add some kind of string tree or bar to hold the strings down behind the nut?

Sounds like the answer.
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Re: String break angle over the nut not sufficient?

Postby Mark Swanson » Thu Oct 11, 2012 11:11 pm

If you are worried about the break angle- but it doesn't sound like that is a problem- just wind more strings on the tuner shaft and make sure the windings are running DOWN the shaft.
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Re: String break angle over the nut not sufficient?

Postby Bill Bell » Fri Oct 12, 2012 8:44 pm

The tuners are Grover full-size self locking. As I mentioned since the tuners are self-locking you just stick the strings thru the hole and tune, there is no wrapping of the strings around the posts. I will check the nut..but what am I looking for? What do you think the problem would be? This is my 10th instrument and have not had issues with nuts in the past? By the way, Stew Mac said I can return them for a replacement if I choose.
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Re: String break angle over the nut not sufficient?

Postby Mark Swanson » Fri Oct 12, 2012 9:25 pm

Ahh yes...the locking tuners. Myself, I don't like them and it doesn't seem like they make a lot of sense as any tuner with two or three turns on it is just as "locked" as anything else. I suppose I am old school but they are a little too much like a gimmick to me. You could replace them as you said with regular tuners and then you could wind them down.
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Re: String break angle over the nut not sufficient?

Postby Nick Middleton » Fri Oct 12, 2012 11:17 pm

I bought those Grovers once but I returned them immediately because the posts are extremely tall. I didn't like the way they looked however, I thought the hole for the string was normal; just the locking-stuff above the holes was what made the shafts so tall.

Like someone said before: string it up like normal tuners so you end up with some windings and verify if a lower-angle off the tunners would help any
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Re: String break angle over the nut not sufficient?

Postby Greg Robinson » Sat Oct 13, 2012 5:31 am

Bill Bell wrote:I will check the nut..but what am I looking for? What do you think the problem would be?


Make sure you have a gradual curve supporting the string from the fretboard side of the nut back to the tuners, and make sure it's smooth, clean and polished/burnished (I like to use bits of old strings in a jewelers saw to make sure the slots are nicely burnished).
Sometimes little scraggy bits on the tuner side of the nut slots can cause horrible buzzing problems.
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Re: String break angle over the nut not sufficient?

Postby Bill Bell » Wed Oct 17, 2012 4:48 pm

I'm still perplexed...I worked on the nut last night, being careful not to touch the very front section where the strings make contact, it made no difference. I tried shimming the nut to make sure there is plenty of clearance over the first fret, also made no difference. I also tried raising the bridge with no change as well. I checked the level of all the frets, and the neck relief and all seems good. The B and E strings when plucked fairly hard still have a kind of Sitar like sound, it sounds kind of like a fret buzz but can't find a reason for it. I'm not convinced it's the tuners either but the only thing that seems to eliminate it is a little downward force behind the nut, however I agree that 9 - 11 degree (measured) break angle should be sufficient but at this point I don't know what to do other than exchange the tuners? Thanks everyone for your help and suggestions.
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Re: String break angle over the nut not sufficient?

Postby Mark Swanson » Wed Oct 17, 2012 5:13 pm

Place a capo on the first fret. If the trouble goes away, then it's the nut or something behind it. If the trouble is still there then it ain't the nut.
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Re: String break angle over the nut not sufficient?

Postby Bill Bell » Mon Oct 22, 2012 1:38 pm

I did the capo on the first fret thing and it seems to have eliminated "most" of the problem. I did notice that the neck relief is a little on the small side (.008") and maybe I should increase? The clearance over the first fret when fretted between the second and third is .005" so I don't think the nut is cut too shallow? I guess I'll adjust the rod a little to get a little more relief and just keep experimenting until I find the problem, don't know what else to do?
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Re: String break angle over the nut not sufficient?

Postby Jeff Highland » Tue Oct 23, 2012 6:49 pm

Personally, I will not go over 0.008 relief on a well set up and levelled electric.
Check the string action at the 12th, what do you have there?
It is possible to have break angle problems with high tuner posts even with a reasonable headstock angle, especially if the fretboard is thin.
But fenders get away with very little. Try measuring the actual angle the string makes so you know for sure whether it is a problem or not.
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Re: String break angle over the nut not sufficient?

Postby Gordon Bellerose » Wed Oct 24, 2012 12:31 am

In one of your last posts you mention that you get a bit of a "Sitar" sound.
It also sounds like you've measured the nut height properly. Or at least well enough to take fret buzz out of the equation.
The only thing left is the actual nut slot being cut a bit unevenly, or a bridge slot that has the same problem.

I use locking tuners on all of my guitars. I really like them, and they work very well with a tremolo fitted instrument. I do not think the break angle is the problem.
I need your help. I can't possibly make all the mistakes myself!
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Re: String break angle over the nut not sufficient?

Postby Bill Bell » Wed Oct 24, 2012 1:54 pm

Gordon, interesting comment about the bridge saddles. The bridge on this guitar has "V" shaped notches in the saddles, are these supposed to be used as is or filed or something? I wondered about this because I guess some bridges do not have a notch or anything and you're supposed to use nut files to put a groove in them I think? I have examined the nut several times but but will check again, maybe I will cut a new one just to eliminate the nut all together?
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